tv Tavis Smiley PBS January 25, 2013 12:00am-12:30am PST
tavis: good evening. from washington. i am tavis smiley. tonight our third conversation about poverty in america. we are joined by a panel that includes o,jonathan kozol, mariana chilton, rose ann demoro, john d. graham and the new chair of the congressional black caucus, marcia fudge. we are glad you joined us. "vision for a new america" is starting now.
king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i try to live my life every day we know that we are only halfway and we have work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> speaker gingrich, i wonder if you can help me imagine what a
white house conference to eradicate poverty with the left and right present to talk about ideas that they could agree on. take me inside and give me a sense of what some of the ideas on the table might be that could get discussed. >> the fact is for 60% of the cost of public schools in big cities, catholic schools graduate with an extraordinary high amount of kids that go to college. what if we said to the catholic schools, we will let you enroll as many poor children on the same ratio, and we will find it? all of a sudden you have an explosion of highly decision -- highly disciplined schools that cost 60% as much. i am just using that as an example. take a variety of other things
where you have certain kinds of charter schools that have extraordinary graduation rates, so i was in a school in philadelphia. it was a public charter school, and we had a junior in the school and the same neighborhood, the same students, but in three years fundamentally changed. they expected us to fight, so we fought. in this school the first time we find we are getting kicked out, and i want to go to college. every teacher was engaged. the question they ask is what college are you going to. if we did get to an agreement, i would be for whatever level of funding it so, because i think poor children need more schooling and better schooling
when middle-class and upper- middle-class kids. that is a fact. i never said we should abolish the food stamp program. i would suggest to year, a few -- suggest you if you tell us there are 50 million kids, i would say what is wrong with a program where they do not have adequate food? >> let's deal with this now. when they want to make a point about what is not working, what is not the answer to the prayer, they go right up the war on poverty.
was the war on poverty of failure, or did we have any success? contextualize the way you see the war on poverty. >> the kennedy-johnson years have the biggest decline in poverty in the history of the country, and it is conservative propaganda to repeat this was a failure over and over again. if you look at the poverty rate in 1959 and compare it to the end of the decade that was the biggest single drop we have had, this is pure propaganda. when you say we need to carve out protection, it is all going down. we should understand there is no carving out right now. it is under assault, and we just made permanent when the bush era tax cuts for 99% of the
households in the country. that was a so-called victory. what we are doing is tricking the base to spend on any of these programs. we do not have money because the taxes disappear. you look at where the corporate sector keeps its money. the cayman islands. we have constructed this. this is not paralysis. this is a bipartisan approach. both parties have been on this. the republicans do it gleefully. the democrats do it wringing their hands. they have both sided with
cutting the taxes on the top. they are parties to the disappearance of the civilian programs of our national government, which work, and if you looked at the budget president obama has put on the table, on a non-security discretionary budget under this president is to decline from about 4% of national income in 2010 down to below 2% by the end of this decade. 1.7% of national income for jobs, training, education, for all the infrastructure, the environment, climate, technology, and forgetting who government? this is the hard truth, and what is likely to happen is to solidify this, because no one is speaking out for the government.
we are talking about protecting entitlements. we are squeezing to nothing. the top do not pay. they have been given every way to get their money out tax-free, and it is trillions of dollars that have been lost in addition to what has been wasted in the censored wars. >> if i can get some quick response, jeffrey sachs was saying a while ago there is a bipartisan consensus that the poor do not matter, so they end up being more invisible. what is troubling for so many of us, you talk about a guy like lyndon johnson who made it very clear he knew he was writing off the south for the next 30 or 40 years by pushing the kinds of programs he pushed, the war on poverty. let me ask you a question i was going to ask the congress wouldn't -- the congresswoman.
i will ask you, have the democrats abandoned for people -- poor people? have they abandoned the issue of poverty? >> you want me to defend them? i am going to come down hard. >> thank you so much. let me say two things. i am not owned by anybody. no corporation or anything else. let me say that democrats have been a lot of ways written off poverty. i disagree with that. it is no thing to do with guns. the congressional black caucus has taken this up year after year. no one fights for more people more than they fight for poor people.
no one fight the battle, even the congressional black caucus, which was basically able to hold off on the last vote because of this spirit of people understand we say, how did you pay for this? they pay for it by cutting things like dialysis and renal failure treatment and diabetes. we understand clearly our caucus is not always on our side, because they get so caught upto in the middle class. the congressional black caucus has just handed to retreat today and our meeting saying we are not going to go for raising the age of medicare. we are not going to go for putting social security on the table, because we know that increases the poverty in this country. >> since you went there, and i want to be transparent and always attempt to be authentic
in these conversations so we can make progress, you are the new chair of the congressional black caucus. you have seen this reported everywhere. the president, the first black president barack obama and the congressional caucus had an interesting dance in the first term. you can read about it said there was some tension between the white house and the congressional black caucus, and you decided you were going to go out any way in create your own jobs. you went out and create these jobs fares. at one point you could not get a meeting with a black president inside the white house. these are the facts. i am wondering what the relationship is going to be like now that you are the new chair.
i was stunned by this. when you did raise your voices, often in tension with the white house, the black people in your district would go off on you, for giving the black president a hard time. i am just asking how this relationship is going to work in the second term, given that the black for are kept -- black poor are kept out. >> my perspective of this, i anticipate having a good relationship with the white house, but i will say the president's job is different from my job. the poorestm one of cities in america. i believe with any president you have to say what you believe,
and if that means pushing, we have to push. i do not believe any president wants to ignore the pressing issues of our day, whether it be poverty or anything else, but there is so much on their plate, if we do not do what we need to do, it is our fault and not his. [applause] >> i was going to say i think there has been a shameless silence not just in the black community but in the progressive community of telling the truth about the white house which talks one way but often moves in the other direction. the black caucus i could understand because you have a black constituency, so they have protected the black president, who has been attacked by the right, by fox news and other places.
now i do not mind the truth, but when they start lying, i have to defend the president. you say you come to his defense, but often he is not a sensible when it comes to issues of the core, new jim crow, prison industrial complex, they cannot defend them. what they have been talking about needs to be highlighted because the legacy, there have been politicians on the inside who tried to move in certain directions and gotten a lot of trouble. i want to get back to the point of change. we do need fundamental change, but part of it has to be with -- has to do with the point about jobs. you can have all the education in the world like increase, but if they have no job, they have nowhere to go.
why is it we do not have high quality jobs? one reason is in the last 30 years you have the financial sector and wall street moved to the center, 41% of profits going to the banks that do not generate jobs. they do not generate wealth for value. it is well in private pockets. they are sitting on 3.4 trillion dollars right now. they have a bailout of homeowners did not get of the banks got, and they got nearly interest free loans of 7.7 trillion dollars. the top 38 banks are $34 billion each. centum of that money be used for decent housing, and when -- can some of that money be used for decent housing? we are living in a culture shock through with corrupt self interest and avarice and greed,
and nobody gives a dam about the notions of solidarity and being concerned about others. that is why education is under assault. that is why i have told you about education, why? because i radically opposed your policy. public education is predicated on the notion that you are concerned about other people's kids and not your own kids. you have got to be concerned about not all the children. not any longer. all of it is -- all of this preoccupation with short-term gain as opposed to long-term integrity is being pushed to the side. i do not care what color you are. that is part of the decadence of our civilization, and we ought to be honest about it. we ought to tell the truth about it. that is the only way we can turn it around. tavis: the you believe there is
class warfare in this country? >> i believe there is a fixed between the big boys and the federal reserve, the big boys in the new york banks, and the big boys who wrote songs-franc -- dodd-frank. it creates a government bank coalition. i think it is amazing we went through the last five years and there have been no serious investigations of what happened to all the money. i find myself thinking, i am about to agree with dr. west on a topic -- dissertations could be written about this particular thing. the only place that puzzles me is when secretary duncan when reverend sharpton and i went around. i think we were going around on behalf of the children.
public education can be publicly funded as long as it is open to everyone. it cannot have restrictions, so i want to find a way to get to schools. if you can tie the money to performance, and you can ensure there is rapid change in any building where the children are not being served well, i would be much more comfortable, and i am willing to go to 15 children per classroom. i think that point is exactly right. >> is the speaker right or wrong. >> it is dead wrong. i do not want to waste in a time we vouching -- rehashing the voucher argument. we killed that 20 years ago. the conservatives do not call it vouchers' anymore. they have sweeter terms. bikes are charter schools the answers -- >> our charters was
the answer? >> there are a few that get attention because they are cleverly selective of today admit and some selective of who gets in them in the first place. charter schools, especially the ones that targeting corporate money from right-wing foundations, what they represent is a narrowing of civic virtue to the smallest possible parameters. i will fight for my kid in this boutique school of 200 children, and i will not raise my voice for the millions who left behind. kornel spoke about billions or trillions of dollars sitting on wall street. i want to make a concrete suggestion to president obama.
if we can get ahold of that kind of money, that is the best preventive medicine i know of to rescue children from hereditary poverty, and that is to give them rich, exciting, and enticing development dolton preschool starting when they are two years old. who -- developmental preschool starting when they are two years old. i am sick of people -- i will not say who, but one member of congress mentioned to me there is no proof of headstart networks. -- that headstart works. afgani kindergarten teacher in america -- ask any kindergarten
teacher in america, and you will find out if it works. every first grade teacher knows right away. the crime today is even with a modest increase, more than half the core of eligible children in this country do not even get a single year of anything at all resembling real preschool education. i happen to know what the rich get for their children, because i grew up in privilege. they cannot fool me. they tell me. they do not think i will tell you, but i will. here is what i am saying. if i am the president i will take those billions of dollars being wasted right now on the testing corporations, and i would score that money into three full years of success --
the best preschool education in the entire world, and if this nation cannot afford to do that it costs $40 billion. if we cannot afford to do that, i do not see what hope we have of opposing any sort of dignity or pretense of democracy in the eyes of the people in the rest of the world. tavis: this conversation could not be more timely. i say all the time that budgets are moral documents. you can say what you say, but you are and who you are, and we know who you are when you put your budget on the table and we can see what your budget priorities are. that is why it could not be more timely, because we are just days away. after monday as we start to move toward debt ceiling conversation and spending cuts get placed on the table, the poor are likely to take it on the chin, and that is why we are having this conversation live
on c-span. our web site is a futurewithoutpoverty.com. have we lowered our expectations? i wonder what we say to fellow citizens who have lowered expectations. there is always a debate about what the proper role of government ought to be, and i suspect we are going to get into more conversation over the coming days as to what the role of government should be, what are our expectations, are they too low, and some people will say they are too high. talk about expectations. what do we have a right to expect in the richest nation in the world? >> i think it is important about what should be done, it is not
theory. it is actually being done in countries around the world with demonstrated, of proven results, so every child in many countries of europe start out with preschool, and the results are unlike this country there is not hereditary problems. if is proven. what you're saying about the health system is completely proven. our health system cost an estimated $750 billion a year and now for the same services you would get in other countries. the institute of medicine issued a report of the waste and fraud that comes from this for-profit system is 5% of our national income wasted. that sector owns both parties in washington, and this has been off the table, but it is not fair because this is what other normal countries do. we are not normal.
our politics got hijack. >> we are the greatest nation in the world. it is the notion of american exception lissome, so how could this not be happening in the greatest nation in the world? >> one thing the greatest nation in the world refuses to do is look at any other nation. tavis: we will leave it right there for now. join us tomorrow night for the conclusion of this terrific conversation. until then, the night from washington, and as always, keep the faith. [applause] >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time from washington for a final night of our look at poverty in america. that is next time. we will see you then.
>> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is right thing. i try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. to completely eliminating hungerwalmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. you. thank you.